Right To Work Checks – What You Need To KnowMar 01, 2023
As an employer, you’ve got a legal requirement to check the right to work status of your employees in the UK to ensure that the employee is legally entitled to work within the country.
If you don’t?
Well, we don’t want to scare you, but failure to check properly can result in civil penalties, fines, and even imprisonment.
Don’t worry though, if you’re wondering what ‘right to work’ is and how you can check it, we’ve got you covered:
What is the right to work?
All employees that work within the UK must prove their eligibility, and employers have a legal requirement to check this documentation, hold a copy on file, and provide regular checks.
(This includes employees that employers believe to be of British origin – you can’t just assume.)
Before your employee starts work, you must carry out:
- A manual right to work check; or
- A right to work check using an Identity document validation technology (IDVT) via the services of an Identity Services Provider; or
- A Home office online right to work check
Carry these checks out, and you’ve got a strong defence.
What do you need to do?
When it comes to right to work in the UK, there are two main types:
- Indefinite right to work
- Limited right to work
The proof required depends on which category your prospective employee falls into.
For example, a person of British origin would provide proof from what the government calls “List A”, typically a passport or a birth certificate along with proof of their National Insurance number.
If the prospective employee is not of British origin, a document from List B can be used. This includes a current passport endorsed to show the holder is allowed to stay in the UK and allowed to do the work in question.
All copies of the documents must be verified, so this is where a manual check is necessary.
During the pandemic, it was acceptable to have a copy sent to you, but that’s no longer the case.
As an employer, you have a responsibility to check that the documents are genuine and that the person presenting them is the prospective or existing employee.
You must also note any restrictions (e.g., students who can only work in term time for a set number of hours).
When taking a copy, you must sign, date and state that the person on the passport is a true likeness of the person they have employed.
Always remember these three words: Obtain, check, and copy.
How do you ensure that you’re checking the right person?
You can use an Identity Service Provider to carry out digital identity verification – there’s a list of certified providers on the government website.
Employers must satisfy themselves that the details from the output of the check are consistent with the person presenting themselves for work and make sure they retain a clear copy of the check for the duration of the employment.
What about the online right to work check service?
This service can be used to check if an applicant has a biometric residence permit number, card, or has been granted settled status under the EU settlement scheme.
From 6th April 2023, biometric permits and residence cards are not proof of right to work, and these individuals must present a share code.
When taking a copy of either the share code, permit, or passport, they will state how long they are valid for or in other words, a time limit.
It’s your responsibility to plan in advance of that date to carry out the necessary checks before they expire.
How can you ensure you get this right?
Ask for right to work documentation from the recruitment stage, rather than waiting until you’re about to employ someone.
If an applicant gets to interview stage, ask them to bring their right to work documentation at the same time so you can carry out those checks and take a copy.
As long as you follow the guidance that has been provided by the government and follow all their steps, you’ll have a statutory excuse if you’re found to be employing someone who did not legally have the right to work in the UK.
What if I don’t do these checks?
If you don’t check your employee’s documents properly, you run the risk of employing someone illegally. The penalty for this is pretty severe – up to £20,000 for each illegal worker, unlimited fines for severe breaches and up to 5 years in prison.
Need some help with right to work checks? At J Mann Associates, we’ve got decades of experience, and have helped our clients conduct thousands of right to work checks – give us a call on 01980 622167 and we’ll be happy to help.
Do you need help with your people management?
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